Iran's Nuke Centrifuges Getting Massive Upgrade

New generation plants to process uranium 5 times faster

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 31, 2013 4:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Iran insists its uranium enrichment program is just for peaceful purposes—and now it is poised to start making a lot more of it. Tehran plans on mounting as many as 3,132 new-generation, IR-2m centrifuges; the machines are capable of enriching uranium five times faster than its current equipment, reports the AP. Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its upgrade plans last week, and yesterday the IAEA informed its 35-nation board.

Iran already has more than 10,000 centrifuges at its main enrichment plant in Natanz, 140 southeast of Tehran, but they are unable to enrich past 4%. Another facility in Fordo can enrich up to 20%; that material can be turned into weapons-grade uranium (levels of more than 90%) much more quickly.

In this April 9, 2007, photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a ceremony in Iran's nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, south of capital Tehran, Iran.
In this April 9, 2007, photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a ceremony in Iran's nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, south of capital Tehran, Iran.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)
In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside Isfahan, Iran.
In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside Isfahan, Iran.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
In this 2008 file photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility.
In this 2008 file photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility.   (AP Photo/Iranian President's Office, File)
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